Mercy Ships has selected Sierra Leone as the site for the 2011 Field Service for the world’s largest charity hospital ship, the Africa Mercy. This will be the fourth time that Mercy Ships has delivered free world-class medical care to the impoverished West African nation. The protocols and Memoranda of Understanding were recently signed. The Sierra Leone government was represented by The Honourable Vice President, Sam-Sumana, and Mercy Ships was represented by Mr. Don Stephens, Founder and President. The agreement provides the necessary collaboration with the Sierra Leone government in regard to the port, security, water and sanitation. It also opens the door for the Mercy Ships Advance Team to do the preliminary work necessary for the upcoming Field Service.
Health care in Sierra Leone is unaffordable and often unavailable. The country ranks 180 out of 182 nations on the 2009 Human Development Index, and the majority of the population lives on less than $2 per day. Infant mortality in Sierra Leone is 159 per 1000 births as compared to the USA at 6.3 per 1000 births. Dental care is another illustration of the conditions within the country, with one dentist for every one million people and 6,000 dentists per million people in the USA
The ten-month 2011 Field Service will once again bring hope and healing to Sierra Leone. The state-of-the-art hospital ship, the Africa Mercy, contains six operating theaters and will provide free medical care. The off-ship Eye Clinic and Dental Clinic will offer additional medical services.
Mercy Ships looks forward to their continued partnership with the West African Fistula Centre in Aberdeen founded in 2004. The clinic is now under the management of the Freedom from Fistula Foundation. The Centre offers free surgeries to women suffering from childbirth-related injury and has the capacity to serve between 500 and 600 patients per year.
The hospital ship will also serve as a platform for training African health care professionals and for community development teams. These programs ensure that the positive impact of Mercy Ships will continue long after the ship leaves Sierra Leone.
Don Stephens, Mercy Ships Founder/President said, “Sierra Leone holds a special place in the heart of Mercy Ships. We are looking forward to building upon the foundation we established in 3 previous visits. The people of Sierra Leone started asking ‘when will your hospital ship come back to our country in the immigration and customs lines at the airport. Welcome Mercy Ships was the greeting of several officials. You help our people. Please come